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IU Jacobs School of Music professor examines cultural concerns in recent book


Dec. 14, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Kristina Muxfeldt, associate professor of musicology at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, examines once-passionate cultural concerns that shaped music of Schubert, Beethoven, Schumann and works of their contemporaries in drama or poetry in her recently published book, Vanishing Sensibilities: Schubert, Beethoven, Schumann (Oxford University Press, 2011).

"I have long been interested in shifting mind-sets," said Muxfeldt. "How the most normative ideas in one age move to the periphery, becoming alien over time. How social constructs that once seemed eccentric may later enter the mainstream. Vanishing Sensibilities deals with this phenomenon in music and culture around Schubert, Beethoven and Schumann--a time in European history when the basic social hierarchies of the last millennium were crumbling.

"Liberty was as pervasive a concept then as multiculturalism is today, and ideas about such fundamental things as freedom of belief, definitions of marriage, consenting adults, individualism and those terrifying 'phantoms of the mind'--self-determination and citizenry-- were vigorously discussed."

Because this Age of Metternich was a time of reactionary politics and extreme censorship, Muxfeldt explained, competing visions could not be openly debated. Instead, the conversation was channeled through historical drama, legends, the mythological past and music, which was privately celebrated for its ability to circumvent the restrictions, even as--or precisely because--its meanings could not be fixed.

About Kristina Muxfeldt

Muxfeldt, Kristina 2
Kristina Muxfeldt
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Muxfeldt's research interests include music history, analysis, reception and social history, with particular emphasis on the cultural and social environment of early 19th-century music, especially song, opera and theater in Vienna.

Her essays and reviews have appeared in The Literature of German Romanticism, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 19th-Century Music, The Journal of Music Theory, Notes and The Cambridge Companion to Schubert. "Happy and Sad: Robert Schumann's Art of Ambiguity" will appear in Word, Image, and Song: Vol. 2: Essays on Musical Voices (University of Rochester Press, 2012). "Some Consequences of Figaro" is in preparation for Music Finished and Unfinished: A Symposium in Honor of Richard Kramer, May 18, 2012, at the CUNY Graduate Center, New York.

Recent papers have addressed Schubert operas and the culture of Viennese censorship (involving Mozart, Beethoven, Tieck, Grillparzer, Nestroy, etc.) and various Schubert songs. In June 2011, she served on the faculty of the Vancouver International Song Institute.

As a Fulbright scholar, Muxfeldt studied at the University of Vienna, and she spent another year at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Stuttgart. Her research and travel to Weimar and Vienna have been furthered by grants from West European Studies at Indiana, Yale University's Morse Fellowship and the A. Whitney Griswold fund, and American Musicological Society Publications subventions.